I would have to say that my favorite memory is what would happen every Christmas Eve for my family. We would go to church, and then come home, take family pictures in our nice Christmas outfits, and proceed to read the Night Before Christmas as a family. This would usually take quite longer than it normally would, because my two brothers, two sisters and I would do our best to interject our own versions of what should come next in that iconic poem.
“He sprang to his sleigh……and he missed by ten feet!”
“When out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed and let loose my bladder.” ( yeah, I know…real mature lol).
The excitement of the next day made us all really giddy, giggly, and I just remember laughing as hard as I’ve ever laughed in my life. We would turn out the lights, the living room would only be lit up by the lights coming off the Christmas tree, and a fire in the fireplace. We would make a huge deal of hanging up each of our stockings, trying to be as goofy as possible, and taking turns accompanied by lots of silly pictures. We would then gorge ourselves on Christmas cookies (as if the excitement of the next day wasn’t enough to keep us awake at night), drink hot chocolate, or egg nog, or whatever holiday drink was served, and then read that poem. After that, it was bed, and I would usually have the worst time sleeping, as I was way too excited for the next day.
I do have to say though, that being a parent now, watching my kids get excited for Christmas is increasingly cooler each year. My oldest is 3, so this will really be the first Christmas where he understands the concept of presents. I’m really excited to see what this Christmas is going to be like. I’m fairly sure that soon all my old memories will be topped by the new ones I’ll be forming with my kids as they get older.
My favorite memory had to have been when I was in AIT training in the Military. I had been gone for 9 weeks of rough and grueling training of Basic training and AIT. Since the AIT training fell over the holiday, they sent us home for a week, instead of trying to cut foxholes in the frozen ground of Missouri. I spent most of a day travelling back to California, hauling all of my gear with me, and arrived in the middle of the night.
When I arrived at the Airport I was happily surprised to see all of my friends and Demolay brothers waiting for me to take me back home. It showed that I had family that cared that I was back with them, and was a wonderful time. A week later I was back on the plane, and preparing to go live in the freezing cold of Missouri, but the warmth stayed with me the rest of the time.
I was going to tell the story of my older brother’s best friend trying to come down our beach cottage chimney but getting stuck, but I’m going for the sentimental (surprise!)
My father had a small problem: he didn’t know how to ‘make conversation’ with children over 1 year and under 21 years old. We were an upper middle class family in Brooklyn, and he was Director of Medical Education at Long Island College Hospital. He was the worst at giving presents. My mother was the opposite. She had a notebook in her pocketbook, and would carefully listen whenever someone remarked about something they wanted or liked. And she’d put it in the notebook.
It wasn’t until I was almost 17 that my father asked me, while we all were shopping in B. Altman’s on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, if I could recommend what he could get Mom for Christmas. When I told him, he didn’t seem to believe what I’d suggested. I told him to trust me.
Christmas morning, my mother opened his gift, and was astonished. She got tears in her eyes. I watched my father, delighting in his amazement. She held on to the small Gund Teddy Bear as if it were the most precious gift in the world. In a way, it was a present that was decades overdue. You see, my parents had grown up in the 1920s. My mother’s father was very strict – even when she wanted a teddy bear. You see, it was commonly believed that stuffed animals were for boys only. Dolls were the toys for girls. My mother had told me this that very day, in B. Altman’s, when my father had asked for my advice.